Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Whole Paula Deen Thing

Saying nothing does nothing

The Whole Paula Deen Thing

For the past two weeks I’m repeatedly being asked what I think about the whole Paula Deen thing.
 Maybe it’s because I’m black or that I live in Savannah Georgia or maybe it’s because I write books about race and transformation.
Whatever the cause, no one expects my answer; “I think she may be using too much butter.”

I enjoy seeing, hearing or waiting for the response because some folks actually ask about this in a text message.

Here’s the thing and I hope you take me very seriously because it’s high time—Paula Deen is our wake-up call.
For the past 20 years we have been working on what we say in public around the “others;” those we think don’t fit into our own dominant group. For some the group is based on age and some it may be race. Some base the group on education and some do it by the struggle. Sometimes the group allows an “other” to be an honorary member, with all the rights and privileges, but then that member goes too far. But that’s another story for another time; another other.

 It’s time that we all work on what we say when the “other” is not in the room.
We need to work on what we think and feel when we type from an anonymous email account or yell from the inside of car and most of all; we need to work on that thought that comes forth regarding the "other" because we feel insecure about our own abilities.

I’m done preaching, I’ve got to go work on my own nasty cobwebs.

Be you, be well be transforming.

Bertice Berry, PhD.



  1. Agreed. But I honestly believe that Americans are giving too much notice to PD. She is a minor player in the world of entertainment and has somehow become elevated to the point of distraction for some people. She said what she said, not surprised, fire her, let's move on.
    As for what we say in private; I'm all for cleaning it up. I'm appalled at times by what people will say to each other publicly.
    Classic example: Older white man in dealing with his friend (Black African) jokes about his skin color, "You better not stay out in this sun too long, you might get darker." Ha-ha! Innocent enough. To me, this is the justification of his "friendship", showing that he can refer to his race while the Black man must politely accept his comment and move on. Would you make "Fat" comments about your obese friends? Do you make "cripple" jokes about your handicapped friends?
    This is not to suggest that being Black is some sort of malady, but as obvious as it is, it is that that we must learn to consider in a different way.
    If a white man cuts me off in traffic I might say. "That son of a b---- cut me off!" If a black man cuts me off in traffic, guess what I say. Why? Why is it that suddenly his race comes into question when he has treated me equally as bad as another?
    I've struggled my whole life, trying to remove that description of race that was embedded in me as a child. It is not easy. I'm not even sure how to achieve that except to keep trying. PD needs to try harder. And yes, maybe we all need to try harder.

  2. You made my point better than I did. The Paula Deen thing is not the thing, it is us. It becomes our wake-up call to have these conversations about going beyond while allowing all into the circle that must get bigger and bigger until there is no border.

    By the by readers Roland Hunn is the decendent of John Hunn, the abolitionist land owner of the plantation where my free ancestors lived during slavery. We are pretty sure that we are realted.

  3. How is it that EVERY SINGLE TIME I read/hear your words, the world snaps more clearly into focus. PD is human, and humans are fallible. We are ALL fallible. The issue is blurred and all over the place ... but it varies, depending on who you are, where you live, and your circumstance. As a white girl from Central California, I haven't experienced (as my father did growing up in south Jersey) the NJA establishments ... and I have no idea what goes through my partner's mind & heart when he hears the term "wetback." The one thought that resonated with me last week w/ SCOTUS' groundbreaking decisions regarding equality was that, "okay, we've come SO FAR in the last 60 years ... but we still have SO FAR to go, and we MUST keep moving forward." That's what gives me hope. We MUST keep moving forward. I can't/won't pretend to understand how the issues that don't impact me personally effect those whom they do ... but I CAN continue to work on improving myself, what I think, what I feel, what I do, and what I say ... in public and especially in private. Thank you, BB, for ALWAYS reminding us to walk in purpose.